Abundance And Scarcity In The Insight Market
from the it-all-fits-together dept
So, as we were building out Techdirt's business, working with various Fortune 500 companies to better understand various technology trends, we again began to notice an interesting set of scarcities and abundances. On the scarcity side, companies were really hungry for useful and actionable insight about their biggest challenges. At best, they could hire a big analyst firm or a big consulting firm, which would be excessively expensive, and often wouldn't give particularly useful information. In fact, it was a huge risk, since they would only receive a single answer, as if handed down from a wise man on the mountain, with no idea if it was accurate or not. At worst, they could have internal people try to do the analysis, often passing it off to a junior person to handle the work. Again, this would result in a single opinion (often from someone not very experienced) providing an important analysis that was also biased by coming from inside the company, rather than with an outsider's perspective.
At the same time, we were discovering an immense abundance in the ability to find and communicate with smart, knowledgeable passionate experts, many of whom we got to know via their participation on Techdirt itself, or via their own websites and blogs. At first we began to tap that group informally, to help us with the work we were doing with existing clients -- but we realized it was better to formalize the system, which is how we came up with the Insight Community, helping to eliminate the middle man and solve the scarcity (relevant, timely insight) with the abundance (lots of knowledgeable folks). The trick was coming up with a system that allowed the best, most useful insights to bubble to the top. In other words, figuring out not just how to connect companies to smart people, but to make sure that those companies could get the best, most relevant and insightful analysis out of the most qualified folks in that group of experts. To do that, we put in place a competitive system, that allowed experts in the community to compete to show they could provide the best insight. The end result has worked quite well, making it incredibly easy for companies, both big and small, to tap into this network of experts in order to get the best, most relevant insights into the challenges they face, gaining multiple expert opinions -- and doing so at a price the company gets to set.
Of course, while the "name your own price" model works well in some cases, it doesn't work for all. It can sometimes be an impediment for a company that knows they want something specific and isn't sure how much to bid for it. So, to help with those situations, we wanted to focus on common types of cases that the Insight Community was being used for and start to launch more packaged solutions -- the first of which is Smart Dossiers. Many of the customers using the Insight Community, had used it to get a straight analysis of a company. Sometimes of themselves (to get a quick snapshot of multiple outsider expert viewpoints), but more often of other companies they were dealing with: customers, competitors, partners, investments and investors. For example, we had one company use the Insight Community to create detailed "dossiers" on the company's top customer targets, so that its sales people could be better informed while calling on them. Another firm needed a competitive landscape of a new market it was about to enter, and was able to get a bunch of experts to all weigh in on the competitors in just over a week.
So, yes, we are putting into practice the economics that get discussed here all the time. It's all about taking an abundance and helping them "solve" a scarcity that companies desperately are looking for help solving.